WEEK 4 PROJECTION vs. RESULTS
Final Score: 14-35, Wisconsin by 21 over Michigan
SP+ Projection: Wisconsin by 9.0 (+12)
CD Projection: Wisconsin by 4 (+17)
WEEK 4 RECAP @ Wisconsin
Wisconsin did not spring any traps. We did not see any artfully scripted series coming out of the Badgers’ bye week. They simply lined up and said, “Here we come, try and stop us.” Michigan could not find any answers. Wisconsin’s first drive went 12 plays, and took 6:25 off the clock. The drive included the riverboat gambler awakening of Paul Chryst, who finally realized he should use the best running attack in the country on all four downs. On 4th & 1, from his own 34 yard line, Chryst rolled the dice on the first drive of the game! Jonathon Taylor answered the bell with a 3-yard run. Wisconsin converted two subsequent 3rd down plays, including the 1-yard touchdown plunge by Taylor. The Badgers made an emphatic statement, right from the opening bell.
After the ensuing touchback, the Wolverines looked to Josh Gattis and Shea Patterson for their opening statement. On 1st & 10, Patterson connected with Ronnie Bell, who raced 68 yards down inside the Wisconsin 10 yard line. After Patterson missed Nico Collins on 1st & Goal, Michigan looked confused trying to get their heavy personnel onto the field, including recently converted defensive tackle, Ben Mason. Jim Harbaugh called timeout to ensure everyone was on the same page. After the time out, Mason fumbled his first carry since 2018. Through three games, the Wolverines have fumbled their first drive away 100% of the time.
Wisconsin began to march again, before Chryst inexplicably forgot about Jonathon Taylor again. After moving the sticks a couple times, the Badgers punted back to Michigan from midfield. With under four minutes left in the first quarter, Michigan was given another chance to answer Wisconsin’s opening statement. A quick completion to Tarik Black set up 2nd & 5. Patterson attacked the deep middle of the field by throwing a laser to Ronnie Bell. Bell made a beautiful diving catch, and again Michigan looked poised to stand toe-to-toe with Wisconsin.
Alas, the play was reviewed, and the catch was ruled incomplete. The FOX network’s rules analyst, former referee Mike Pereira, disagreed with the decision. He stated that it was so clearly a catch that if the call had been incomplete, he would have overturned that to rule it a catch. Regardless, Michigan was challenged to convert on 3rd & 5. When Patterson couldn’t connect with Sean McKeon, the Wolverines punted to the Badgers’ 28 yard line. On the very next play play, Taylor took an inside hand off 72 yards untouched to the end zone to make it 14-0.
Now with 2:32 left in the first quarter, Michigan would have one more chance to answer the challenge from the Badgers. On 3rd & 5, Patterson looked to Donovan Peoples-Jones, who was making his first appearance of 2019. Peoples-Jones drew a pass interference penalty to give Michigan an automatic first down, but lost his composure after the call. After marking off the unsportsmanlike penalty yardage, the Wolverines had gained six yards on the spot foul, and lost fifteen yards on the dead ball foul. Four plays later Michigan punted again. After the Badgers bulldozed their way to a third touchdown (15 plays, 80 yards, 8:29, two 4th down conversions), the Wolverines would not get another real opportunity to right the ship.
Michigan Football repeatedly finds themselves in this early hole on the road against competitive teams. We’ve discussed both verbally and in print how the metrics highlight clear issues on the road. Today, Michigan again failed to rise above some early adversity at Camp Randall, and Wisconsin made them pay. Michigan’s program is not on life support, despite how dead we may feel inside when these shoddy performances are repeated annually.
There will undoubtedly be a renewed sense of urgency inside Schembechler Hall this week. The talented players and proven coaches in Ann Arbor can absolutely solve these issues. They must find a way to rise to the largest challenges when the pressure is highest. To enable his players and his coaches, Jim Harbaugh must first reform his culture of both physical and mental toughness before the other necessary corrections truly matter at all. All hope is not lost, but Michigan must start by answering the coming challenges with a fighter’s mentality. The challenges will start in a matter of hours with some pretty brutal film sessions.
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